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Listening

Holes in the Year-End Best-of Lists

While everybody else was fighting for attention to get their year-end lists in by the 31st, I was lying in wait, culling the extremes, the ins and outs, to strain through the finest opinionated cheesecloth, so what’s left is only the purest top-10 filtrate possible before snorting it all up in a President’s Day fiesta. Then I realized how monumental a task it was. Do you know how many albums came out in 2007? A metric shit-ton. (Check the meniscus.) There’s no way anybody except the truly dedicated and masochistic could listen to them all and know for sure. I can only make a small sampling of noteworthy delegates (or “potent notables” as I like to call them in my new column appearing in the weekend Parade section of your newspaper), and hope that somebody else is doing their research too. Instead, I decided to look at everybody else’s and crib their answers.

First off, Pitchfork’s year-end list. Don’t get me wrong. I love my Pitchfork. Love it up and down the place. I look up at that neon diarrhea-sprayed background everyday for a good reason: They’re a trusted resource. What they say goes. They’re kingmakers, and rightfully so. They do their research, they know about these albums light years before anybody else, and then they shout it forth across the land with creative distinction. Then again, last year they thought that Knife album was the best thing since sliced cheese. For some reason they really hate Tim Kinsella and David Cross. That Sunset Rubdown album, which they previously said was the Best New Music, doesn’t make their best of the year, whereas an album of nerds yodeling makes the top 10. I don’t get it. Still, they’ll rule with an iron fist until The Wire gets its online act together.

» Listen to “And It Rained All Night (Burial Remix)” by Thom Yorke

Next up, your smaller gorillas in the room: your Metacritics, your PopMatters, and such. All fine publications up until I see an Amy Winehouse album on the list. In a year with Feist, St. Vincent, a great PJ Harvey album, and they go ahead and put a retro R&B singer in their top 10? Somebody’s gotten to them. I guess promo CDs don’t pay the server bill.

» Listen to “White Chalk” by PJ Harvey

I was going to do some straightforward quantitative analysis of trends based on all references made in the past year with Bayesian weighting over traffic sources, but we already know what the answer is: In 2007 people liked droney college rock bookended with dance albums and some mainstream rap albums thrown in to make it seem diverse. Knowing this, I can foresee a 2008 that eventually comes to terms with its ‘90s origins of drone, fuzz, gentle post-rock, and C+C processed dance music. I see people karaokeing to the Sea and Cake back catalog just for kicks while throwing raves in foreclosed suburban homes.

» Listen to “Sound & Vision” by the Sea and Cake

If there were any justice, 2008 would be a yearlong dedication to the Monks, whose guitarist, Dave Day, just passed away. There’s been plenty said about the Monks’ primitive proto-punk garage rock influence, plus the robes and tonsures, but it’s still bizarre to realize they were all ex-GIs singing anti-war anthems. The current equivalent of post-military rock probably sounds more like Eddie Vedder fronting Linkin Park or the Charlie Daniels Band on meth. I say “probably” because I have no idea. There’s so few well-known military or ex-military bands out there, either due to extended tours of duty or the catch-22 of trying to requisition an anti-authoritarian beat without the proper paperwork.

» Listen to “Complication” by the Monks

In the next few years I foresee the abandonment of music collections. The burden of each person being a librarian over terabytes of data will slowly seem meaningless now that most everything is attainable somewhere else online. The fetishism of 7-inches will die out. People will realize they have better things to do in life than cleaning up ID3 tags. The focus will move to mixes. There is a renaissance of college DJing waiting to happen, but until people realize the aesthetic qualities of mumbling and incoherent playlist reading over morning Zoo Crew banter, it will be an unrealized utopia.

» Listen to “Psycrunk Mix”

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